Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

“what you have left”

Book Excerpt: Bright Along the Body

what you have left

is all birds, in the end

it’s throwing the birds with ham fist

throwing then


feather explosion shimmering frisson

of blue red black tawny feathers

& tiniest bones look look look

bird bones they’re not like my bones

even a little bit or the bones of anyone i know so

fragile so delicate you knit

with them tiny needles you pierce

your daughter’s ears, if you had a daughter

but what you have is a handful of birds

and your heart the rifle

your tongue licks the ground like a plate

taste all the feathers

and bloody clay

“what you have left”

Ashley Roach-Freiman is a librarian and poet from Memphis. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Bone Bouquet, Fugue, THRUSH Poetry Journal, Southern Women’s Review, The Literary Review, Ghost Proposal, and Nightjar Review.